The National Industrial Transportation League has sided with the American Trucking Associations, filing an amicus brief in the ATA's lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the Los Angeles-Long Beach trucking concession requirements.
The case, which is being heard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, involves a measure that took effect on Oct. 1 requiring motor carriers to sign concession agreements with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The concession requirements are an important part of the ports' clean-truck plans.
In September, the trucking association sought a preliminary injunction against the concession requirements, saying they violate federal law and are burdensome on motor carriers. The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles denied the preliminary injunction and ATA appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco.
The NIT League, which represents about 700 importers, exporters and other transportation interests, in its Oct. 20 filing charged that the district court erred in turning down the request for a preliminary injunction for security reasons.
Federal law preempts state and local entities in regulations involving international maritime commerce and intermodal transportation. The ports sought an exemption from the federal preemption on the grounds that the concession requirements promote safety.
The NIT League brief also said the lower court should not have broadly interpreted motor carrier safety to include national security.
"The district court's interpretation judicially rewrites the safety exception to grant the states authority not intended by Congress," the group stated.
Furthermore, the federal government has been the sole regulator of international maritime commerce dating back to the 1916 Shipping Act. That law was amended by the 1984 Shipping Act and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, which extended maritime commerce to intermodal-through service by rail and truck.
The NIT League agreed with the trucking association in charging that the port concession requirements illegally regulate motor carrier rates, routes and services with restrictions on hiring decisions, truck routes, parking, operations and financial reporting.
Also, the League stated, the concession requirements contradict the Ocean Shipping Reform Act's goal of promoting competition, efficiency and non-discriminatory treatment of service providers.
The Los Angeles plan, for example, would disenfranchise the owner-operators who now work in the harbor by phasing in a requirement that motor carriers utilize only employee drivers.